Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Impact of Facilitator Feedback on Student Asynchronous Discussions within an Online Health Information Management Program

Pamela Greenstone, MEd, RHIA, RHIT
University of Cincinnati

Asynchronous discussions in a Health Information Management Program provide an additional layer of learning for its online students.   The extent of learning gained from the asynchronous discussions is based on the quality and quantity of participation which in turn is reflected in an assigned weekly score.  The purpose of this study in a BS online HIM program was to assess whether or not individual facilitator feedback to students on the quality of their discussion board postings over a three-week period would improve the quality and quantity of subsequent discussion board postings.

An experimental design which incorporated both quantitative and qualitative methodologies for the analysis of asynchronous discussions in an online Health Information Management Program, both pre and post intervention, was utilized.  The Health Information Management Students (n=192) and facilitators (n=10) were divided into test and control groups. The intervention in this study was use of a facilitator individual feedback form for a three-week period to students in the Test Group.  Discussion boards were analyzed both pre-intervention, during intervention and post intervention for both groups.  Pre-intervention weekly discussion board scores were higher than in the Control Group than from the Test Group, noting that some inconsistencies were taking place in assessing level of discussion board quality and quantity. The intervention of the facilitator feedback form to students in the test group revealed that deeper scrutiny of discussions resulted in lower weekly scores for the three-week test period.   The Control Group discussion board scores stayed consistently the same over the five-week period and the quantity of discussion board threads throughout the study stayed the same also.  Test Group discussion board scores showed a significant decrease during the three weeks of intervention but then reverted back to pre-intervention score levels once the feedback tool was not utilized by the facilitators. The quantity of the Test Group discussion board threads increased steadily during the study timeframe.
The impact of the individual feedback tool on student asynchronous discussions was twofold:  1) the individual feedback tool created a tool for facilitators to objectively assess students’ quality of discussions thereby resulting in lower discussion board scores for the test group of students during the intervention period.  2) The quantity of discussion board threads within the test group forums gradually increased throughout the intervention period.